Emma Morano, the world's oldest person believed to be the last survivor of the 19th century, died on Saturday at the age of 117.

Morano, born on November 29 1899, passed away peacefully at while sitting in an armchair at her home in Verbania, near Italy's Lake Maggiore, reported the Daily Mail.

READ MORE:
World's oldest woman: Eggs the secret to a long life
Meet the woman who may be the last living person born in the 1800s

Dr Carlo Bava, Morano's doctor, said he had last saw her on Friday when 'she thanked me and held my hand' as she did every time he called on her.

Advertisement

He added: "She didn't suffer. I'm happy she didn't suffer but passed away that way, tranquilly."

Morano had been increasingly spending more time sleeping and less time speaking in recent weeks, according to her Dr Bava - who had been her physician for nearly a quarter of a century.

It was clear she was 'slowly fading away', according to Dr Bava.

Silvia Marchionini, mayor of Verbania, said: "She had an extraordinary life, and we will always remember her strength to help us move forward in life.

"She reached an incredible finish line."

Morano, born on Nov. 29, 1899, lived through two world wars, the great depression, 10 pontiffs and 90 separate Italian governments.

Her fiance died in World War One and she was forced to marry an abusive man she did not love, who she left in 1938. She also lost her only son to a crib death when he was just six months old.

She told La Stampa newspaper in 2011: "When the outbreak of the First World War happened I was in Villadossla and I had a boyfriend. They called him for the front and he never came back. Dead. So I had to marry someone else.

"He was one of here, the lake. I did not want to marry him but he forced me. We lived in the same courtyard and he sent for me one day by his mother. I went there and he said: 'If you're lucky you'll marry me, or I'll kill you.

Morano went on to support herself by working in a factory making shopping bags, then at a hotel, working way beyond the usual retirement age.

She outlived all eight of her brothers and sisters, one of whom lived to 102.

Dr Bava said that Morano was always 'very decisive' for abandoning the husband in the Fascist era, when women were traditionally supposed to be submissive.

But Morano said she was happy with the life she'd had.

She said: "I'm glad of the life I made. The best time was youth: nothing special, but I was going to waltz, and I was happy as well. Now times are quiet, my legs are a bit soft.

She considered herself a good dancer with a beautiful singing voice in her youth.

When asked whether she was afraid of death Morano responded: "No, when it comes it comes. And then I pray a lot".

Ms Morano attributed her long lifespan a partly down to her genetics - her mother died at 91 and at least two of her sisters lived to be over 100.

But she also maintained a diet of three eggs a day - two of which she ate raw.

The habit dates from when she was diagnosed with anaemia at the age of 20 in the wake of World War I.

Some doctors had warned her against eating three eggs daily, which she did for years, but she ignored their advice - and in 2014 researchers from Harvard Medical School visited her as part of a study into immunity to diseases.

While Morano had been increasingly spending more time sleeping and less time speaking in recent weeks, she had still eaten her daily raw egg and biscuits that day.

She maintained the regime for 90 years and is believed to have eaten over 100,000 eggs in her lifetime.

Morano ferociously clung to her independence and only took on a full-time carer in 2015.

Dr Bava said: "Emma has always eaten very few vegetables, very little fruit.

"When I met her, she ate three eggs per day, two raw in the morning, and then an omelette at noon and chicken at dinner.

"She's a very determined person. She has never wanted to go to hospital, she's never received any particular health care."

A woman in Jamaica, Violet Brown, who was born in that Caribbean island on March 10, 1900, is now considered the oldest known person in the world, according to a list kept by the Gerontology Research Group.